Paraffin Section Immunophenotype of Cutaneous and Extracutaneous Mast Cell Disease: Comparison to Other Hematopoietic Neoplasms

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Mast cell disease (MCD) is a rare proliferation that may be easily confused with other hematopoietic tumors. Several paraffin section antibodies immunoreact with mast cells but most are not specific. Tryptase, a specific marker of mast cells, may not be cost-effective to maintain in a laboratory because of the rarity of these lesions. This study was undertaken to assess the immunoreactivity of MCD and attempt to select a limited antibody panel for diagnosing MCD among hematopoietic tumors that morphologically mimic MCD. Immunophenotyping of cutaneous (10 cases) and extracutaneous (18 cases) MCD, as well as 94 other hematopoietic neoplasms, was performed on paraffin sections. All cases of MCD showed strong and diffuse positivity for CD68 and tryptase. In the vast majority of the cases, the mast cells were also positive for CD117 (27 of 28) and CD43 (25 of 27). Four cases (40%) of cutaneous MCD demonstrated a subpopulation of mast cells expressing myeloperoxidase (MPX), whereas all extracutaneous MCD were negative for MPX. Two (40%) extramedullary myeloid tumors (EMT) expressed CD43, CD68, CD117, and MPX, but none expressed tryptase. CD43, CD68, CD117, and tryptase were expressed by 25%, 1%, 15%, and 1%, respectively, of all B-cell lymphoid neoplasms, and none expressed more than one of these four antigens. We conclude that (1) cutaneous MCDs may demonstrate a subpopulation of MPX antigen expressing tumor cells and may be confused with cutaneous involvement by myeloid leukemia if other antibodies are not used; (2) tryptase is the most specific mast cell marker among the antibodies studied; and, (3) the detection of tryptase, together with CD68, CD117, and usually CD43, is unique to MCD among hematopoietic tumors.

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